Author

Maxx Shabazz

Date of Award

2019

First Advisor

Eden-Renee Hayes

Second Advisor

Francisca Oyogoa

Abstract

Strict gender roles have long been a cornerstone of American society. Yet biological theory is now at a point where geneticists are finding that our binary understanding of gender based on primary and secondary characteristics is not an accurate or appropriate framework for discussing sex and gender identity. Within psychology, current scholarship points to how individual self-perceptions do not consistently align with the socially constructed expectations regarding sex and gender. Sociologists see the problem of sex within its social context where gender is defined by one's sex and is manifested in one's assumed sex role as accompanied by the outward display of their assumed gender. These sex roles are defined by an unequal power dynamic that is maintained by patriarchal practices within our society where men are empowered by their male role. Sexual and gender identities were traditionally thought to be quite simplistic with few options and no choice. In the modern era of socially aware youth, defining characteristics of sexual identities are being challenged and expanded to reflect diverse populations that were once hidden. To refine the working definitions of sex and gender, this thesis explores the scientific literature to get a better understanding of the real representations of sexual identities within humans. Gender roles, infiltrating the consumer shopping world and power dynamics, can be dismantled only by discussing how they developed and what can be done to eradicate them. Through exploring the intricacies of transitioning among different gendered groups, people can achieve a better appreciation of the existing structural barriers to sexed and gendered identities.

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